2 Kings 6:6
And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Where.—Whereintof? or, Where fell it in?

The iron did swim.—He caused the iron to float. (Comp. Deuteronomy 11:4 for the verb.) The iron ax-head did not swim, but simply rose to the surface. It had fallen in near the bank. Elisha’s throwing in the stick was a symbolical act, intended to help the witnesses to realise that the coming up of the iron was not a natural, but a supernatural, event, brought about through the instrumentality of the prophet. As in the case of the salt thrown into the spring at Jericho, the symbol was appropriate to the occasion. It indicated that iron could be made to float like wood by the sovereign power of Jehovah. The properties of material substances depend on His will for their fixity, and may be suspended or modified at His pleasure. The moral of this little story is that God helps in small personal troubles as well as in great ones of larger scope. His providence cares for the individual as well as the race.

2 Kings 6:6. He cut down a stick, and cast it in thither — This was undoubtedly done with no other design than to raise the attention of the beholders, and make it more evident that the iron was made to swim by the divine power alone; for the casting in of the stick could contribute no more to it than his casting salt into the springs at Jericho to the healing of the waters, the mantle of Elijah to the division of Jordan, or the clay, put by Jesus Christ upon the eyes of the blind man, to the recovery of his sight. These inadequate means were employed on these occasions only to set forth more fully the reality and greatness of the miracles.6:1-7 There is that pleasantness in the converse of servants of God, which can make those who listen to them forget the pain and the weariness of labour. Even the sons of the prophets must not be unwilling to labour. Let no man think an honest employment a burden or a disgrace. And labour of the head, is as hard, and very often harder, than labour with the hands. We ought to be careful of that which is borrowed, as of our own, because we must do as we would be done by. This man was so respecting the axe-head. And to those who have an honest mind, the sorest grievance of poverty is, not so much their own want and disgrace, as being rendered unable to pay just debts. But the Lord cares for his people in their smallest concerns. And God's grace can thus raise the stony iron heart, which is sunk into the mud of this world, and raise up affections, naturally earthly.No doubt there is something startling in the trivial character of this miracle, and of the few others which resemble it. But, inasmuch as we know very little as to the laws which govern the exercise of miraculous powers, it is possible that they may be so much under their possessor's control that he can exercise them, or not exercise them, at pleasure. And it may depend on his discretion whether they are exercised in important cases only, or in trivial cases also. Elisha had evidently great kindness of heart. He could not see a grief without wishing to remedy it. And it seems as if he had sometimes used his miraculous power in pure good nature, when no natural way of remedying an evil presented itself. 6. cut down a stick, and cast it in thither—Although this means was used, it had no natural adaptation to make the iron swim. Besides, the Jordan is at Jericho so deep and rapid that there were one thousand chances to one against the stick falling into the hole of the axe-head. All attempts to account for the recovery of the lost implement on such a theory must be rejected.

the iron did swim—only by the miraculous exertion of Elisha's power.

No text from Poole on this verse. And the man of God said, where fell it?.... For though endowed with a spirit of prophecy, he did not know all things, and at all times; and if he did know where it fell, he might ask this question to lead on to the performance of the miracle:

and he showed him the place; the exact place in the river into which it fell:

and he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; he did not take the old helve and throw in, but a new stick he cut off of a tree; some think he made of this another helve or handle, of the same size and measure with the other, and that this being cast in was miraculously directed and fixed in the hole of the iron at the bottom of the water, and brought it up with it; but, as Abarbinel observes, there is no need to suppose this; the wood was cast into the precise place where the iron fell, and was sent as it were to call it up to it:

and the iron did swim; it came up and appeared, and was bore on the surface of the waters; or, "and made the iron to swim" (e); which some understand of the wood cast in, as if it had some peculiar virtue in it to draw up the iron; but it was not any particular chosen wood, but what first occurred to the prophet (f); and the meaning is, that Elisha caused it to float, contrary to the nature of iron.

(e) "fecit supernatare", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (f) Vid. Friese, Dissert. de Ferro Natante, sect. 7.

And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did {b} swim.

(b) God wrought this miraculously to confirm the authority of Elisha, to whom he had given such abundance of his Spirit.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. He cut down a stick, and cast it in thither] The account is extremely simple, and does not at all fit with the explanations of those who would represent Elisha as holding the stick and when he had put it into the hole for the handle, thus raising the iron from the bottom. The stick is cast on the surface of the water.

and the iron did swim] R.V. and made the iron to swim. The voice of the Hebrew verb requires the rendering of R.V. The stick cast into the river was the outward symbol which the prophet used, as a sign of what was to be miraculously brought to pass. The iron was to float as the piece of wood did. In the same manner the salt at Jericho, and the meal at Gilgal, were signs the one of the purity, the other of the wholesomeness, which was to be wrought in the bad water, and the noxious pottage.Verse 6. - And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim. Two natural explanations of this miracle have been attempted:

(1) that Elisha passed a piece of wood underneath the axe-head, which he could see lying at the bottom of the river, and then lifted it up to the surface (Von Gerlach);

(2) that he thrust a stick or bar of wood through the hole in the axe-head, made to receive the haft, and so pulled it out (Thenins). But both explanations do violence to the text; and we may be sure that, had either been true, the occurrence would not have been recorded. The sacred writers are not concerned to put on record mere acts of manual dexterity. "And let the leprosy of Naaman cleave to thee and to thy seed for ever." This punishment took effect immediately. Gehazi went out from Elisha covered with leprosy as if with snow (cf. Exodus 2 Kings Exodus 4:6; Numbers 12:10). It was not too harsh a punishment that the leprosy taken from Naaman on account of his faith in the living God, should pass to Gehazi on account of his departure from the true God. For it was not his avarice only that was to be punished, but the abuse of the prophet's name for the purpose of carrying out his selfish purpose, and his misrepresentation of the prophet.

(Note: "This was not the punishment of his immoderate δωροδοκίας (receiving of gifts) merely, but most of all of his lying. For he who seeks to deceive the prophet in relation to the things which belong to his office, is said to lie to the Holy Ghost, whose instruments the prophets are" (vid., Acts 5:3). - Grotius.)

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